High Usage Charge

With record-setting heat this past summer, there was a greater demand for energy. Overall usage peaked as we turned to air conditioning and other devices to cool down. This substantial increase in energy use combined with summer pricing may have resulted in your bills having been higher than you’ve previously experienced. There are ways, however, that you can take control of the amount you pay. Take a look at the information below that will help you make informed decisions on how to avoid the High Usage Charge. It’s never too early to get ready for the next summer.

Update December 2018: We filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission to allow us to remove the High Usage Charge from our pricing plans. Pending Commission approval, we hope to remove the charge by summer 2019. Please  read more about our request.

How much is it?

The High Usage Charge is a higher price per kilowatt-hour above tier 2.  

Summer Rates
Winter Rates

Baseline Allowance

The Baseline Allowance is the amount of energy required to cover your basic household needs such as lighting, cooking, heating and refrigeration. Your individual baseline is reviewed and approved by the State of California and is determined by your climate zone, season number of days in your billing cycle and whether you’re a gas-only or gas and electric customer.

How does knowing your baseline allowance help you avoid the High Usage Charge? The purpose of the High Usage Charge is to encourage energy conservation. This state-mandated charge only impacts you if your household exceed 400% of your baseline allowance. This is similar to how the data plan for your mobile phone works, where you're charged more for data use in excess of your allocated data. Knowing your baseline and managing when and how much energy you use may result in lowering your energy bills.

Calculate your baseline

Get alerts to save

Subscribe to High Usage text or email alerts so you'll know when you are approaching or have reached energy use triggering the High Use Charge.

Sign up for alerts

What should I do?

  1. First, use the calculator above to determine what level of electricity use results in the new charge.  Compare this amount of usage to your bill to see if you're close to or have reached this level.  
  2. Second, sign up for alerts if you feel your electricity use could reach these levels.
  3. Third, take steps to manage your energy use to avoid the charge.

Additional Information:

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Use online saving tools 

  • Compare your electricity pricing plan choices. You may save by choosing another plan.
  • Set a spending goal and get email or text alerts when you've reached it.
  • Subscribe to a weekly email alert summarizing your energy use each week.

Go to sdge.com/MyAccount

Market PlaceShop, compare, get rebates

  • Comparison shop for the best price on energy-efficient products. You can also get price-change alerts.
  • See estimates on annual energy savings and popularity ratings for these products.
  • Apply for rebates through an easy online process.

Shop now at sdge.com/marketplace

As a CARE customer, you're currently receiving a monthly bill discount of up to 38%. However, high electricity use may make you ineligible to continue receiving this discount. If you exceed four times the amount of your baseline allowance, you're subject to both the High Usage Charge and eligibility re-verification. The re-verification process will start with a separate letter sent from our CARE Program team.

Consider making changes to your home's energy use so you can avoid the High Usage Charge. If you're eligible, the Energy Savings Assistance Program could provide you with free energy-efficient home improvements that can make your home more comfortable and save you money now and for years to come.

Additional information about baseline allowance is available here.  

The High Usage Charge is based on electricity use. To avoid the charge you need to use less than 400% of your baseline allowance. Be sure to sign up for alerts so you're aware of your energy use during the month. And you can follow these no-cost savings tips and low-cost savings tips  to save money. 

Time-of-Use pricing plans are not subject to the High Usage Charge. You can evaluate your available options in My Account

It depends on several factors, such as high temperatures. Typically, there are about 100,000 customers in the region that will reach this level of electricity use one or more times in a year. There are about 1.3 million residential customers overall, so this is slightly less than 10% of all customers.

Consider Solar

You may be able to avoid the charge by considering solar.  For more information visit: